After coming out, many trans women go through what I call the “FAQ Hag period”, where large portions of our day are spent answering the inane and often times inexcusably intrusive questions from friends, relatives, classmates and the random “friends of friends” we added on Facebook without knowing them personally in hopes that it would help make our initial encounter less awkward. This phase can often last from a few weeks to a few months.

I'm on my second year.

Normally, I have my various writing and creative projects to distract myself from the white noise of curiousity slowly gnawing away at my patience slash sanity. However, since I've come down with the flu this week, I've had no energy whatsoever to put towards a legitimate article with hyperlinks and geek slang, so I've decided to let the Spanish Inquisition pass through me, like so many bottles of unnaturally flavored fruit drink. To take the edge off (and to make it a little more relevant to my “geek stuff” area of dubious expertise), I've included a few questions not about my trans or lesbian identities.

Let the madness begin.

1. Does your family support your decision?

Each of my immediate family had their own unique negative reaction to my coming out and subsequent transition, like a gentle snowflake of unpleasantness and distaste. They would avoid me, criticize the way I looked, and when time permitted, lecture me on the importance of finding one's own identity and not resorting to "such drastic measures" to feel like my own person. But it's gotten better, somewhat. Their initial negative reaction to my transition has been tempered, I think, with my departure to the Bay Area. At least that way they don't have to see me.

They generally refer me by my birth name and gender when I'm not around or when they think I can't hear them talking amongst themselves. My mother, to her credit, has been very good about naming and gendering me properly on Facebook and in the letters/cards/checks to help me pay my rent that she sends me, and it means a lot to me, probably more than it should. My father, still holding out on the hope that this is all just part of my “figuring out who I am” phase and that I can still turn this all around and go into the military or politics or law or whatever he decides I should have been instead of an artist that week, still calls me “son” in lieu of any of the myriad of names from which to chose from and despite regularly commenting on my Facebook status updates, claims to ignore/avoid pictures depicting how I look now (i.e. “dressed as a woman”). Recently, my father asked me to proofread an essay he had written for his psychology class, in which he chose people from his personal life that were textbook examples of Freudian defense mechanisms. He used me as an example of regression. I proof read and edited a whole paragraph in which I was referred to as his “son” who “pouts” and “slams doors” when “he” doesn't get “his” way. My therapist was not as amused as I was. My brothers have not called, written, twittered or smoke-signaled me since I left. I occasionally catch my middle brother on AIM, but I can tell that he's not interested. I really do love my family, and hope that they could come to love me back just for who I am, and not “despite” my recent life changes. But fuck, some people don't even have families to cry to their therapists about. I keep half-jokingly entertaining the notion that if I “pass” better, they'll be more accepting of me. And that's why I need to cut back on my drinking!

2. Did you ever go as “a girl” for Halloween?

No, but I do have an interesting Halloween transition workplace story, if you'd like? You would? Well golly then, okay!

Last October, I was working as computer lab/AV support for Arizona State University. I had come out to my co-workers and classmates as trans, but I hadn't yet begun presenting female on campus, and was planning to do so in December as the semester was dying down because my supervisor's supervisor thought that if there were less students in the lab, there was a less likely chance one of them would cause a scene at seeing me in a dress (this is why I often speak slowly and only when accompanied by visual aids to people with MBAs). We were told that for Halloween we could dress in our costumes. Except me. Because I had a “girl costume” and it was believed that if students and faculty saw me in a girl costume and then later in the school year saw me dressed as a girl, then they would just assume that I was just doing some elaborate cosplay and then subsequently throw a fit when I tried using the women's restroom or asking to be referred to with female pronouns, etc.
I had hoped that writing that out would be less painful for my brain then speaking it. It didn't.

The punch line to this story is that I didn't come dressed as anything for Halloween, looked silly in comparison to my co-workers, and then, when I began presenting female on campus “full time”, people still threw fits when I used the women's room and refused to tell people my “boy name”. A small petition was actually passed around to get me banned from using the women's room on campus, and I was eventually advised to use the handicap bathrooms, because they were gender neutral, although there were only two on the whole campus, and I didn't work or take classes near either of them. For a long while afterwards, I peed standing up when using the ladies room, because I figured “ fuck it, one way or another, they're going to complain”. But then I moved to The Bay, and nobody's given me shit. So, yay! Happy ending.

3. How did you feel about the portrayal/retooling of Gordon Dietrich as a closeted homosexual in the V for Vendetta movie?

While I normally disagree with arbitrarily putting in LGBT characters in media solely for the purpose of bashing/killing/showing them in pain to make a point or advance the plot, I felt that it was just a teensy bit appropriate given the message and theme of the film, which was very obviously an indictment of the Bush Administration (the same can also be said for the film adaptation of Watchmen). A lot of right-leaning comic nerds like to shit their pants about this (and generally all geek media that “goes for the cheap shot” by poking at Dubya), but the fact is that all the documentaries, stand up comedians, and witty political cartoons aimed at George W. Bush over his two reigns haven't even scratched the surface of the amount of socio-political damage that his administration had done to American society. Many who read the graphic novel during the Bush years (as I did, several times) applied those messages and ideas and questions to the current political situation, and were validated to see that the Wachowski Brothers had felt a similar sentiment. People are always going to infuse their politics into their media. Read just...about...anything by Frank Miller. The only difference, really, between a liberal interpretation of V/Watchmen and a conservative interpretation of 300 is that Alan Moore does not go on the radio spewing hate speech about the real-life equivalents of his antagonists. Actually, that's not true. Moore's silence on the “giant inter-dimensional squid marriage” issue is leading many of his hardcore fans, including myself, feeling very alienated from him and his work.

4. Many of the cartoons you've mentioned in your Avatar: The Last Airbender article are oriented towards a male audience. Do you enjoy any cartoons aimed at girls?

Do Power Puff Girls count? I have a screenshot of an episode as the wallpaper to my laptop. It's a shame that the movie didn't do as well as it probably could have if adequate care had been put into it. I think it's important to tell girls that you can be rainbows and bunny rabbits and still kick a lot of ass. I have on more than one occasion used “which Power Puff Girl would you be?” to help determine my compability with a potential partner. I've seen a few episodes of Kim Possible, don't love it, but I won't change the channel if it's on. For Christmas one year I bought my then-partner Season One of She-Ra: Princess of Power, and while I love the over the top “sword and sandal” genre, it was a little too Bad News Bears/Little Giants for me to get into. Personally, I think the best cartoon that a young woman can watch for the sake of a positive female role model is Scooby Doo, because most if not all of the work is done by Velma, who despite the Buddy Holly glasses and orange socks is way more attractive than Daphne, I always felt. Also, if you don't count Scooby, you're looking at a 50/50 split in gender representation on that show, which you'll be hard pressed on any TV show, ever. Many girl-oriented cartoons still managed to have a shit girl:boy ratio.

5. Has your taste in comics changed since you've come out?

Actually, with the cost of HRT and doctor's visits sans insurance, I have little to no money to devote to keeping up with current comics. I generally tend to save up and splurge on trade paperbacks. What I do buy is almost always Vertigo or whatever Warren Ellis is working on these days, so in truth, almost nothing has changed.

6. If you don't think the Bratz or Cooking Mama games portray women in a positive way, what games would you recommend?

Fighting games, especially Capcom ones. They often have better girl:boy ratios for character selection, and while impractically clothed, the female characters tend to be very dynamic and fleshed out and have amazing special attacks. My personal favorites are Marvel vs Capcom 2, Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Power Stone, or Guilty Gear franchises. Smash Bros is okay. Games like Mario Party and MarioKart are nice too, despite the low number of playable female characters, because there's really nothing sexual about those games, and if you think otherwise, you're probably one ASL away from meeting Chris Hansen anyway.

7. So what is your beef with Marvel?

I don't have a problem with the franchise. I still buy their video games, see their movies, and all those other things I feel they spend more time and energy on than making good comics. I simply don't read their books anymore. I have been over Wolverine since I was 12. I don't care about the civilian alter-egos of the heroes, and personally would prefer more of a DC “taking up the mantle” approach where more emphasis is put on the hero identity itself. I could give a rat's ass about Peter Parker's love life or Tony Stark's alcoholism. It's great, it builds tension in the plot and creates a real mythos to the character, but after a few decades it loses its impact and I know it doesn't matter because Stark isn't going to drink himself to death, neither is Sue Storm ever really going to leave Mr. Fantastic and settle down with another hero. Marvel, I feel, keeps its characters in suspended animation, the status quo being more important than keeping readers interested in their characters and stories. I am so ready to be proven wrong on this one.

8. How did being trans affect you in college? Did people treat you differently?

Because I was in an art program and did a lot of socially conscious art, many of my professors and classmates assumed that my transition was all part of some very elaborate art project with some deep and profound social meaning, and some were very disappointed to find out otherwise. I had one professor who would, in the middle of a conversation, ask me to speak to him in “the female character”. I filed a complaint against this same instructor for telling me, in front of a whole drawing class, that I would never achieve womanhood since I could not bear children, and that my desire to be a woman was selfish, akin to his impossible wish to be six feet tall. Otherwise, the art department at my school was very respectful and accomodating, the occasional “name mess-up” aside. I was harassed once or twice by campus police or some other staff/faculty, but the school had “gender identity” covered in its anti-discrimination policy, and apparently nobody was outraged with my trans status enough to lose their job over it. Now that I've moved out to the Bay I've considered going back to school (or at least taking some community college classes) just to see what it's different than being a trans student in Arizona. Anybody wanna help make that happen?

9. What would be your dream “geek job” and how would you use it to express your queer/trans identity?

Because I went to art school and was taught that I was special and could do anything I wanted as long as I approached it from an “artist's perspective”, I've got it in my head that I can be the astronaut cowgirl rock star of my childhood delusions. I'm going to write new material and perform with my band Jetta & The Gendernauts and put a queer take on the GWAR/Lordi “spectacle horror rock”, and write for a comic or animated television series of my own creation and speak at Comic Con panels and tell hordes of strangers what it's like to be trans in the blank industry and how it affects my sensibility and inspire scores of others to follow in my footsteps and then spend the later years of my career staging absurd off-off-off-off-off-off broadway plays and musicals with robots and nazi samurais and somewhere in between all that convince myself that I can keep a girlfriend or three in the midst of all this.

So yeah, I'll probably working in some food court until I'm 47 and spend my lunch breaks taking Facebook quizzes and complaining on Adult Swim message boards about how they needed to give Korgoth of Barbaria a chance.

10. Why "Jetta"?

I made a list of all the cars I've ever ridden in and picked the one that sounded the most "me". That, and "Who betta than Jolene?" didn't have the rhyme effect I was going for.

And with that, I'm going back to bed. Adios, mother muchachos!

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